Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Boscoe had a very good birthday.

Boscoe on the morning of his 16th birthday.

At this moment, Boscoe is lying at my side, staring wisely into space, awaiting breakfast. Doug and Riley have just left on their daily constitutional. Robins are chirping madly outside the window, the sun is painting long streaks of yellow light on the green grass, the air (believe it or not--this is July) is cool. A rare lovely summer morning.

Boscoe celebrated his 16th birthday on July Fourth with fireworks, flag-waving, sparklers and ice cream. Oh, wait, that was the neighbors celebrating Independence Day. Boscoe celebrated his 16th birthday on July Fourth with a good strong toddle around the block, two meals of diabetic kibble, and an extra treat of dried chicken breast from Trader Joe's. Also, many scratches behind the ears (a spot he can no longer reach with his back legs) and about 45 greetings on Facebook (no, he does not have a page, but I do).

For the last few weeks, he has been sleeping on the enclosed front porch because, as with most oldsters, his sleep is irregular, he is up quite a bit at night, pacing, and (not so much like most oldesters) every now and then he has a little accident in his bed. NOT OFTEN, he says, horrified that I would tell you this. And he's right; not often. But every now and again.

It seems to work well for everyone, having him sleep downstairs now. Doug and Riley and I get a full night's rest, and Boscoe settles nicely into his bed on the porch, the icicle lights giving him a little illumination, a box fan sending a gentle breeze his direction, the windows cracked (but not enough for burglars to climb in). If I get up first, I can let him out instead of waiting for Doug to wake up and carry him down the stairs.

On Boscoe's last night of being 15, though, Doug hauled the old futon down from the spare room, we cleared space on the porch, and I bedded down with Boscoe for the night. He has always been the world's most cuddly dog, from the first day that we brought him home from the farm in Pine City where he was born. Border collies are not known for being physically affectionate, but he was born to cuddle. He used to follow Toby around the house, snuggle up against him, and then, when Toby got up and stalked off, his personal space violated, Boscoe would cheerfully trot after him and snuggle up again. Toby grew to tolerate it, and then, I think, to like it.

And so the night before Boscoe turned 16, we slept together. And while that sounds romantic, in a way, it was not the most restful night I ever had; he has grown bony in his old age, and he shifts around in the night to a diagonal, which meant that I was humped off to one corner of the mattress in a little ball, and halfway through the night I had to get up and turn off those damned icicle lights, and when I got back to the futon there was somehow even less room for me, and I didn't fall back asleep until about 3 a.m. or so, and when I got up at 5:30 I had a crashing headache that took me half the day to get rid of.

But none of that mattered, really. It was great to be near him in the night, hear his quiet, even breathing, scratch that old back of his and whisper to him, even though he can't hear a thing. If he makes it to his 17th birthday, I'll gladly do it again.